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History of Kathakali Dance

Kathakali is thought to have originated from pioneer dance-drama forms - Ramanattam and Krishnanattam. The word "attam" means enactment. These two forms of dance, along with Kathakali, dealt with presentation of the stories of Hindu Gods Rama and Krishna. Kottarakara Thampuran, the ruler of the south Kerala province of Kottarakkara, composed several plays on the Ramayana, which led to the evolution of Kathakali.It originated in the 16th century AD, approximately between 1555 and 1605, and has been improved miraculously over the years. The refined and present form we see today was prepared by Mahakavi Vallathol Narayan Menon, founder of Kerala Kala Mandalam. The dance form requires the performers to rely heavily on hand gestures and facial expressions to portray their character and replace the dialogues and messages with it. The hand gestures are an essential part of almost all classical dances and are known as "Mudra". Along with this, the martial art of Kalarippayattu has also influenced the body language used in Kathakali.



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